I'm a novelist and have an interest in space science and physics. I've been a programmer for more than 30 years and I like reviewing new and up-and-coming authors.
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It's mid-July now, and temperatures at the InSight lander's location on Mars (south-west corner of Elysium in the northern hemisphere) are teetering on the edge and about to fall. At the end of the month - July 30th - NASA's Perseverance rover (formerly known as the Mars 2020 rover) gets its first launch opportunity. It had previously been scheduled to launch two weeks earlier but, you know, things happened.
On the 3rd August, Mars reaches Perihelion, its closest approach to the Sun. It's probably roasting down in the southern hemisphere which is currently experiencing Summer, but for InSight it's the last dregs of Autumn.
Autumn ends on 1st September, and as you might expect, it's into Winter. Martian months vary in length up to 67 sols, but the two months each side of Perihelion are the shortest at just 46 sols each.
Check thepage and scroll down to the temperature-over-time graph to see how this uncertain time settles down into something a lot more freezer-like. At the bottom of the page you can see the current position of the planets.
Big day today. I'd taken the day off yesterday to setup my NAS, which actually only took a couple of hours but then I began to tinker… Anyway, today I reformatted the clock's SD card and reinstalled Raspbian. Then I went through the process of setting up the clock, making sure that everything I hadn't documented before got documented.
That done, I turned my attention back to the thorny problem of when sunrise occurs. My calculations are close, but I'm not happy with them. I'll lick it soon
It's been a few days since I wrote an update, so here's what's happening. Firstly, and a bit off-topic, NASA have stopped updating their Mars Weather page, and the data isn't currently coming through from their servers via the Open API. At the same time, I'm getting email updates from JPL with micro-animations of the lander at work and no mention at all of anything holding up the weather data (such as a dust storm). I'll contact them with some suggestions to improve their API.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the piMars software is coming along.
It's been a few days since I last updated the progress of this project, for which I apologise. Here's what's happened:
I've been wondering what to do with my Raspberry Pi Zero, and didn't think I'd come up with an idea for a few months. Like most things, it's not necessarily a good idea to go looking for a use for it: wait until a use suggests itself.
Anyway, I'd seen a project where someone had turned a Zero into a mobile phone. I kid you not. It didn't have a touch screen, but it was great for receiving calls and SMS text messages, and the fact that it looked like it was home-made has that nerdy appeal. I decided that maybe, one day I'll do that, but not this year.